Essential Parenting Skills

The reason why many parents struggle with raising their kids is because parenting doesn’t really come with a manual. What worked for your parents or for your friend might not work for your children. Each situation is different and your style is also different from theirs. In addition, the changing times can make it a challenge just to raise your children safely with the expanding reach of the internet, gadgets that are geared for younger audiences and the environment in general which may be much more different than what you grew up in. However, it doesn’t mean that as a parent you are left on your own to make mistakes and raise your children poorly. There are some essential skills that apply to any situation, no matter what kind of parenting style you prefer.

Safety Issues

It can be difficult for parents (especially new ones) to find a balance between being over-protective and throwing your children to the wolves. You must bear in mind that natural consequences is also a very important learning tool for your children. The cliché example of teaching your child about the dangers of fire is nothing compared to letting your child feel the flame and discovering for himself that it hurts. If you think that it’s not a very serious or life-threatening experience, then the child should stumble and learn by himself. When you are not around after a few decades, your child will be on his own at that time so he should already have some life experiences under his belt at that time.

In addition to child experiences, a very effective parent will also be able to detect danger even before it approaches. This means that you should take it upon yourself to read more about internet safety, the latest safety equipment, and being cautious of your child’s friends (both young and adult).

Set an Example

Even if you remind your child about good habits or proper manners, if they don’t see it in you, it just won’t happen. For example, if you yell at your child each time they do something wrong, chances are that he’ll grow up to be an individual who yells when he’s angry or upset. On the other hand, if you are upset with your child and you instead opt for a ‘time-out’ or ‘taking a break’, it will also influence the child to do so when he becomes upset in the future. It can be difficult for parents to model appropriate behavior, especially if they weren’t raised that way. However, this is an essential parenting skill since kids are watching their parents all the time.

Appropriate Limits

One thing that might seem heavy for some parents is setting limits for their children. It can be the hours of gaming allowed, their curfew, time for bed, or even the discipline style. When children throw a fit or spout hurtful words, parents tend to cave in and adjust to their children’s whims. You should remember that you’re not trying to be their best friend, but you are their parent even if it means not tolerating their anger. In addition to limitations, using developmentally appropriate discipline strategies is also very important. For example, you wouldn’t sit down and have a talk with your toddler, right? Instead you give him time out or something like that. Once he gets older and starts school, then having long talks when he does something bad will work best. Adjusting your discipline style according to your child’s age is also important when we talk about limitations.

Be Consistent

Another thing that parents seem to fall short is their consistency. Sure, disciplining your child the first few times they do a bad habit can be quite straining on your relationship, but if don’t reinforce that discipline, then the bad habit won’t go away and it will confuse the child even more. They will think that it’s okay sometimes, as long as you are not watching or you don’t know what they did. While they are still developing, it’s important that they realize that each time they do something bad, they will get punished for it each and every time. This will help set them straight as they follow bigger rules or laws in the future.

Manage Stress

For this part, this focuses more on the parent – on you. If you manage your stress effectively, then you are more likely to have more success in disciplining or being supportive of your child. If you are stressed out, everything gets under your skin easily; including your child. This leads to yelling easily or being inconsistent with discipline. Stressed parents are also more likely to use physical punishment rather than discipline. Being a stressed parent actually creates an unhealthy cycle since the child will develop behavioral problems, in turn creating more stress for the parent. Healthy stress management includes taking care of yourself in all aspects and having a very good support network.

Give Leeway

One thing that parents seem to confuse when they think about discipline is that they should decide everything for the child. However, giving your child a bit of freedom or the ability to make small decisions is a very important factor. For example, when your child wants to wear boots during a sunny day, instead of fighting and punishing him for that, it might be better to let him wear it and then let him discover why it’s much better to wear sneakers or flip flops during warm weather. In addition, don’t always apologize about your child’s choice of fashion to someone you meet in public. This will lead to lowering the child’s self-esteem. Instead, you can simply say (proudly) that your child was the one who decided what to wear today.

Clear Expectations

For a child, meeting their parents’ expectations and making their parents proud of them can mean the whole world for them. However when they don’t know what is expected of them, it can get very frustrating for them and their parents. Effective parents are able to let their children know what they specifically expect from them. For example, telling your child to ‘clean up his room’ can mean very differently to the child. It might mean that they simply make their bed or hid their toys under their bed and then they’re finished. Instead, you should specify what a clean room is by saying ‘pick your clothes up off the floor, make your bed, put away your toys, and arrange your table.’

From what you have read, essential parenting skills involves an open communication between the child and the parent. Since you are dealing with a child, it can be very easy to block out their ideas or cast it aside as unimportant. Even if they may be very little, it will still affect your child in one way or another. This is more important in the case of discipline when you need to let your child know why he/she is being punished rather than simply doing a time out and then forgetting everything.